Red Rocks: City appeals judge's ruling that rockfall was caused by failure to maintain venue

Categories: News
The City of Denver is appealing a judge's decision that the city's "failure to reasonably maintain" Red Rocks amphitheater caused a rockfall that injured several people in 2011. Denver owns Red Rocks and had asked the judge to dismiss a lawsuit filed by four people who were injured in the rockfall. But the judge refused. This week, the city's attorney filed an appeal of the judge's decision with the Colorado Court of Appeals.

As explained in our recent cover story, "Rocks and Roll," four people are suing the city of Denver after they were injured by falling rocks during a Sound Tribe Sector 9 concert in September 2011. Some of their injuries were serious: Three of the four people were struck in the head and required hospitalization and stitches to mend their wounds.

In their lawsuit, they claim that the city was lax in its efforts to prevent such incidents. Even though engineers repeatedly recommended that Red Rocks be inspected and maintained every year, city officials decided to do that every three years instead.

Gabe Rovick
The city asked Jefferson County District Court Judge Christopher Zenisek to dismiss the lawsuit. (Red Rocks is located in JeffCo.) Denver shouldn't be held liable, the city's attorney argued, because it's protected under a law known as the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act. There are exceptions to those protections, however, including if a city knew about a "dangerous condition" at a "public facility" and didn't fix it.

Zenisek issued his ruling in August 2013. He found that Red Rocks is a "public facility" and that Creation Rock, where the rockfall originated, is an integral part of it. Although the law says that governments are immune from liability when injuries are caused by the "natural condition" of a property, Zenisek determined that Creation Rock is no longer natural due to the rock removal and rock bolting that's taken place over the years.

Furthermore, he ruled that because falling rocks had been reported in the past, Denver knew about the "dangerous condition" and should have addressed it.

The city's appeal (on view below) argues that Zenisek's conclusions are wrong.

Continue for more on the city's Red Rocks appeal.

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Alex Kretzer
Alex Kretzer

Yes, they absolutely need to maintain them better. I'm not talking about monitoring idiots who climb them. I'm talking of the falling rocks that visitors have no control of but the city could do something better about.

Stephanie Sarad
Stephanie Sarad

People need to respect the numerous signs that are posted everywhere. I watched someone fall to their death there and it scarred me for life.

Matt Silton
Matt Silton

What ever happened to "shit happens"? Not everything that happens has to be somebody's fault.

Ruby Contreras Nugent
Ruby Contreras Nugent

Dumbass people need to stop climbing the damn rocks. It is a natural environment...there is nothing to maintain if everyone follows the rules. Eesh.

RobertChase topcommenter

Denver -- Act with reckless disregard for people's welfare; when caught, deny responsibility.

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